Back-to-back Iowa Conference champions (2012, 2013)
WEST SALEM, WIS.—The Central College men’s and women’s cross country teams weathered muddy conditions to finish third and 12th respectively at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational Saturday morning.
Horton second in men’s race—Eli Horton (sophomore, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) led the effort for the Dutch men, finishing second overall in the field of 461. He covered the 8,000-meter course in 25 minutes, 13.1 seconds and was the first Division III finisher.
“Eli has been getting better at every meet”, said head coach Joe Dunham. “He has set himself up well for the championship part of the season.”
Cole Decker (freshman, Des Moines, West Des Moines Dowling HS) was the next Central finisher in 21st (25:52.8). Drew Jackson (sophomore, Johnston) was 22nd (25:55.2) and Austin O’Brien (junior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) took 29th (26:03), with Sloan Beninga (freshman, Stout, Dike-New Hartford HS) placing 57th (26:32.0). Cody Doughan (junior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) and Tim Shepherd (sophomore, Knoxville) rounded out the Dutch varsity squad in 58th (26:32.4) and 76th (26:44.8) respectively.
“I don’t think we put together a complete race,” said Dunham. “But for the most part we came ready to compete and we had a lot of personal bests. Sloan (Beninga) had a great race, and so did Justin Burns and Nick Barnes.”
Dunham was particularly impressed with the back end of Central’s varsity squad. Junior Brent Ewing (Cincinnati, Centerville HS) was unable to race because of illness and provided an opportunity for others to step in.
“Sloan’s improvements as a freshman have been fun to watch and for him to step into that role was exciting,” said Dunham. “And then it was great to see Cody (Doughan) and Tim (Shepherd) right behind him.”
The men’s squad placed third in the 26-team field after accumulating 131 points. Host Wis.-La Crosse won the meet with 45 points. Iowa Central’s Stanley Kebenei took the individual title with a time of 24:45.3
McDermott leads Dutch women—Senior captain Mel McDermott (Britt, West Hancock HS) maintained her season-long hold as Central’s top finisher, taking 47th in a time of 23:26.4 over the 6,000-meter course. Emma Nelson (junior, Pekin) was second across the line for the Dutch in 77th (23:58.7), with Shelby Mendoza (junior, Norwalk) and Alyssa Eaves (sophomore, Johnston) close behind in 85th (24:15.4) and 87th (24:16.6) respectively. Amanda Dunkin (junior, Pella) was 104th (24:50.3), Daphne Baumgartner (junior, Perry) took 114th (25:09.5), and Mallory Welk (sophomore, De Pere, Wis.) finished 123rd (25:26) to round out the Dutch squad.
“I think we got a chance to see what the women can do when they put together a complete race,” said Dunham. “Emma (Nelson) ran great, Heidi (Heckenberg) had a big personal best, and Gina (LeGrotte) ran well. Once they get 100 percent healthy they are going to make some serious noise.”
Associate head coach Stephen Fyfe also cited the complete effort.
“Almost everyone had a season’s best today,” said Fyfe. “The course was really torn up after the men’s race but they handled the conditions well and really attacked the race.”
The women’s squad placed 12th in the 26-team field after scoring 400 points. The University of Minnesota won the meet with 82 points. Wartburg’s Alana Enabnit captured the individual title in a time of 21:41.5.
The Dutch will be off next weekend before travelling to Cedar Rapids to contest the Iowa Conference championship meet Oct. 27.
“We’ve got some big challenges with all of the great teams in our conference,” said Dunham. “We’re looking forward to it.”